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What did Triceratops eat?


What did Triceratops eat? Ostrom suggested cycadeoid fronds, probably a good guess. Cycadeoids were plants with large fronds, their leaves resembling the cycads popular today in Florida as decorator shrubs. (dinosaur factory)Cycadeoids were so common that the Cretaceous is known as the Age of Cycads. Both cycads and cycadeoids had fronds two, three, even four feet long, characterized by especially strong fibers and prickly pointed leaflets, so that cutting such leaves was a nasty business. But a rich source of protein and calories lay in those Cretaceous fronds, awaiting any beast that could evolve the proper chewing armament. (animatronic dinosaur costume)Horned dinosaurs were late arrivals; they didn't make their evolutionary debut until halfway through the Cretaceous. But once they got going, they developed with explosive success, proliferating species by the dozen, the result of their mechanical prowess in chopping the previously inaccessible fronds.


Beaked dinosaurs featured another adaptive device in their plant-eating repertoire, an extralong digestive tract for soaking and fermenting stubborn plant tissue. Paleontologists usually dismiss any theorizing about the soft parts of dinosaurs. (life size animatronic dinosaur)Stomachs rot, intestines decay . . . both disappear without a trace in the fossil. Ergo, all speculation about gastrointestinal tracts in the Dinosauria is futile. This is a serious problem because obviously there's no hope of understanding the dinosaurs' approaches to plant eating without at least some knowledge of their innards. Some skepticism about the study of digestive systems is justified—only very rarely do sediments preserve direct evidence of inner architecture. Digestive structures possess neither bones nor other hard tissue, so the only way their outlines can be preserved is on rare occasions when mud fills the stomach and intestines before the tissue rots (a few Coal Age amphibians were preserved that way, but no dinosaurs).

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